Shampoo is a common hair care product used for the removal of oils, dirt, skin particles, environmental pollutants and other contaminant particles that gradually build up in hair.

The goal is to remove the unwanted build-up without stripping out so much as to make hair unmanageable.


Shampoo, when lathered with water, is a surfacant, which, while cleaning the hair and scalp, can remove the natural oils (sebum) which lubricate the hair shaft.

Shampooing is frequently followed by conditioners which increase the ease of combing and styling.

Shampoo cleans by stripping sebum from the hair.

Specialized shampoos

A. Anti-dandruff
  • Cosmetic companies have developed shampoos specifically for those who have dandruff
  • These contain fungicides such as zinc pyrithione and selenium sulfide which reduce loose dander by killing Malassezia furfur
  • Salicylayed derivatives are often used as well.
B. All-natural
  • Some companies use “all-natural”, “organic”, “botanical”, or “plant-derived” ingredients (such as plant extracts or oils), combining these additions with one or more typical surfacants.
C. Alternative
  • Alternative shampoos, sometimes labeled SLS-free, have fewer harsh chemicals – typically none from the sulfate family. They are claimed to be gentler on human hair.
D. Infant
  • Shampoo for infants is formulated so that it is the same pH level as the eye, thus less irritating if it were to get into the eyes.
  • Most contain ammonium lauryl sulfate and/or SLS. Alternatively, infant shampoos may be formulated using other classes of surfactants, most notably non-ionics which are much milder than any charged anionics used.
E. Animal
  • Shampoo for animals should be formulated especially for them, as their skin has fewer cell layers than human skin.
  • Cats‘ skin is 2-3 cell layers thick, while dogs‘ skin is 3-5 layers.
  • Human skin, by contrast, is 10-15 cell layers thick. This is a clear example of why one should never use even something as mild as baby shampoo on a cat, dog, or other pet.
  • Shampoo intended for animals may contain insecticides or other medications for treatment of skin conditions or parasite infestations such as fleas or mange
  • It is equally important to note that while some human shampoos may be harmless when used on animals, any haircare products that contain active ingredients/ drugs (such as zinc in antidandruff shampoos) are potentially toxic when ingested by animals.